SUBMITTED By BOB BLANKENSHIP
Federal Law 18 USC 1161 requires that in order for the introduction, possession, and sale of alcoholic beverage to be lawful in Indian Country, the Tribe must adopt an ordinance authorizing and regulating these activities . In addition, the Tribal laws must also be in conformance with the alcoholic beverage control laws of the State in which the Tribe resides.
Federal law also requires that the Tribal Ordinance regulating alcoholic beverage be approved by the Secretary of Interior and published in the Federal Register.
Upon passage of the Tribe’s Ordinance on August 6, 2009, it was realized that the North Carolina State Laws the Tribe was required to conform to only spoke to Counties, Towns, Townships, etc. and not a mention of Indian Tribes nor the authority of the Tribe to regulate the service of alcoholic beverages on its lands.
Another issue was that the State would not allow the Tribe to purchase its spirits from the State Warehouse at distillers price but rather TABCC had to purchase from another towns ABC store and all the markups designed to offer services and enforce ABC laws by local governments were going to others rather to meet the needs of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Over the past year, the Tribe’s ABC Commission has been very busy briefing state officials and state legislators concerning the conflicts between North Carolina abc laws and Indian liquor law. On March 10, Senators Tom Apodaca, Jim Davis, and Ralph Hise introduced Senate Bill 324 recognizing the authority of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to form their own Tribal ABC Commission as the sole authority to regulate and enforce Tribal ABC laws in Indian Country of North Carolina. Senate Bill 324 also authorized the Tribe’s ABC Commission to purchase its spirits directly from the state warehouse at distillers prices, as other ABC stores in the state.
After several legislative committee hearings and presentations in both houses, the North Carolina legislature ratified the bill on June 17.
On June 27, Governor Perdue signed the legislation and once the Tribe’s new ordinance is adopted, approved by the Secretary, and published in the federal register, the Tribal ABC Commission will be the sole permit issuer, distributor of alcoholic beverages, and enforcer of Tribal ABC Laws in Indian Counry of North Carolina.